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Former City Counsel In Westchester Convicted Of Corruption Charges

Lawrence Porcari, Jr. was found guilty.
Lawrence Porcari, Jr. was found guilty. Photo Credit: File

A former top lawyer for the City of Mount Vernon has been found guilty of corruption charges.

Lawrence Porcari Jr. was found guilty by a jury of corrupting government, second-degree grand larceny, degrading government and filing false statements for using $365,000 from the city’s water funds to assist former Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas, who was ousted out of office earlier this year.

When he is sentenced, Porcari will face a minimum term of between one and three years in prison, and may see a maximum sentence of up to 25 years.

According to documents filed with the Westchester County Court, Porcari misappropriated funds from the City of Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply to pay law firms for the personal defense of former Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas in criminal proceedings, as well as a public relations firm hired at the time of Thomas’s arrest in March 2018.

“New York has zero tolerance for those who cheat taxpayers, commit fraud, or violate the public trust,” Attorney General Letitia James said at the time. “My office is committed to rooting out corruption and bringing bad actors to justice at every level of government and in every corner of this state. We will continue to diligently pursue public integrity issues so that the people of New York get the good government that they deserve.”

James said that the approval for the rate of payment for one of the law firms and the public relations firm was sought from the City’s Board of Estimate and Contract on multiple dates in April and May of 2018 but was never obtained.

Instead, Porcari allegedly arranged for payments from the funds from the Board of Water Supply, which consists of money paid by customers for their use of water and whose use is limited by state and local law to Board of Water Supply purposes.

The scheme continued into the fall last year with payments from the Board of Water Supply to a second firm later retained for Thomas’s defense. To further the scheme, Porcari submitted memos to the Board of Water Supply for “emergency” payments to the law firms, including memorandums containing false statements.

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